DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the United States has been helping the Philippines since 2002 and their help in intelligence and surveillance work in Marawi City is vital to the success of the operations.

"Kasi nandyan na sila, hindi na natin kailangan hilingin [ang tulong galing sa US] kasi tumutulong na sila. We just utilize them, tumulong sila since 2002, tumutulong sila sa Zamboanga," Lorenzana said in a press conference Monday, June 12, after the ceremonies of the 119th Independence Day.

He said the US are helping provide intelligence and surveillance through their spy plane and drones even if they are located in Zamboanga City.

The US spy planes have provided technical support seven days ago.

Lorenzana also said there are no US soldiers fighting on the ground.

Photos of US soldiers in Marawi City circulated over social media and generated various reactions from the public.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly declared his opposition to US intervention, earlier denied knowledge of US presence in the Marawi military operations and pointed to the defense chief who may have talked to his US counterpart.

Lorenzana said Monday the information they are getting from the spy planes are very vital. "It is very vital kasi makita natin ang mga kalaban hindi lang sa Marawi pati na ang buong Lanao Del Sur, ang mga supporters ng Maute makikita natin," he added.

The same intelligence information helps them to avoid mistakes. "Para maiwasan natin na magkamali pagbukas ng bomba alam nang kasamahan natin," he said.

Lorenzana added that they will only be utilizing the same services from US during the course of the military operations in Marawi, which they think will hopefully end within this week.

Lorenzana said Wesmincom chief Major General Carlito Galvez, Jr. deployed additional personnel at the equipment receiving information on the ground.

He also added Galvez thought that it would be better if the planes would go to the area, to get real time information.